What is an Attachment Pattern?

We develop an attachment pattern in our earliest childhood years depending on our bond most specifically with our mother, but also with our father and other caretakers. How we react to intimacy or closeness with our parent as well as how we respond to distance and insecurity with our parent defines the way we attach ourselves to others. Simple experiments are used to demonstrate attachment patterns. Mothers will be with their children in a room, then leave their children for a short period of time. Behaviors acted out by the child while the mother is away is a small indication of the child’s attachment pattern. Some children become frantic while some children or indifferent and other children become deeply angered. What most defines an attachment pattern is what happens when the mother comes back. A healthy attachment pattern results in the child being comforted by the mother’s reappearance and, even after some crying or hysterics, can ultimately be soothed. An unhealthy attachment pattern looks one of two ways. First, a child is overly hysterical and cannot be consoled no matter how the mother comforts them, offers her apology, or assures them she was always coming right back. Second, a child avoids their mother entirely, refuses to accept her physical or psychological affections, and expresses anger, violence, or frustration that she left. Unhealthy attachment patterns are often called insecure attachment patterns.

What causes an insecure attachment pattern?

Insecure attachment patterns are sometimes nothing more than a peculiar manifestation of a child’s unique personality. Most often, however, attachment patterns, in particular insecure attachment patterns, are inspired by some traumatic event which happened between a child and their caregiver. Children have very simple needs which must be met consistently and thoroughly by their caregivers. Though violence, abuse, abandonment, and neglect can unfortunately occur in a child’s formative years, a traumatizing event to a child could be nothing more than getting lost in a store or being separated from their mother too long. Even at a young age, trauma and responses to trauma are defined entirely by the individual and their experiences.  

Why do attachment patterns matter?

How we relate to our primary caregivers has a direct influence on how we relate to all other people in our lives in all kins of relationships. Our attachment patterns can influence our romantic relationships, our friendships, our work relationships and more. If we have secure attachment patterns, there is little we need to worry about because we have developed healthy trust and bonding. Insecure attachment patterns can cause destructive repeating cycles of behaviors which prevent us from finding the intimacy, trust, bonding, and success we need in our relationships in life.

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